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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

|4                                              THE  MATFUB^  SETH.
Two of the largest estates are religious endowments ; the one belonging to the
Seth's temple "at Brinda-ban, the other to the Gosain of Gokul. A third is
enjoyed by absentees, the heirs of the Laia Babu, who are residents of Cal-
cutta ; while several others of considerable value have been recently acquired
by rich city merchants and traders.
For many years past the most influential person in the district has been
the head of the great banking firm of Mani Rain and Lakhmi Chand.   The
house has not only a wider and more substantial reputation than any other in
the North-Western Provinces, but has few rivals in the whole of India.    With
branch establishments in Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, and all the other great cen-
tres of commerce, it is known everywhere, and from the Himalayas to Cape
Comorin a security for any amount endorsed by the Mathura Seth is as readily
convertible into cash as a Bank of England Note in London or Paris.    The
founder of the firm, was a Gujarat! Brahman of the Vallabhach&rya persuasion.
As he held the important post of i Treasurer' to the Gwaliar State, he is thence
always known as Parikh Ji, though, strictly speaking, that was only his official
designation, and his real name was Gokul Das.    Being childless and on bad
terms "with Ms only brother, he, at his death in 1826, bequeathed the whole of
his immense wealth to Mani Ram, one of his office subordinates, for whom he
had conceived a great affection ; notwithstanding that the latter was a Jaini,
and thus the difference of religion between them so great, that it was impossible
to adopt Mm formally as a son.   As was to be expected, the will was fiercely
disputed by the surviving brother; but after a litigation which extended over
several years, its validity was finally declared by the highest Court of appeal^
and the property confirmed in Mani Kamrs possession.    On his death, in 1836,
it devolved in great part upon the eldest of his three sons, the famous million-
aire, Seth Lakhmi Chanel, who died in 1866, leaving an only son, by name
Raghunath Das.   As the- latter seemed scarcely to have inherited his father's
talent for business, the management of affairs passed into the hands of his two
uncles, Badha Krishan and Gobind Das.' They became converts to Vaish-
naYism, under tlie influence of the learned scholar, Swami Rangacharya, whom
they afterwards placed at the head of the great temple of Rang Ji, which they
founded at Brinda-ban ; the only large establishment in all Upper India that is
owned by the followers of Ramanuja.
On the death of BadM Krishan in 1859, the sole surviving brother,
Gqfcmd Das, became the recognized'head of the family. In acknowledgment of
Ms many distinguished public services, he -was made a Companion of the